SEATTLE – The first in-person rodent control academy hosted by the Washington State Pest Management Association was a big success, said Billy Olesen, association representative and CEO of PestStop Pest Control in Washington. Olesen played a key role in coordinating the event. He attributed his positive reception mainly to the dedication of the salespeople and the hands-on nature of the workshop.
The continued success of WSPMA’s in-person ant identification clinic prompted her to explore similar workshops that she could organize, Olesen said. After a rodent academy was suggested, vendors like Bell Laboratories, Liphatech and Bayer stepped up to help make the idea a reality. The King County Health Department Rodent Team also played a role in the event.
About 100 people – 60 in person and 20 virtually – attended the two-day “Pest Coast Workshop” in mid-November. The two days started in the classroom and ended with groups applying their knowledge in the field. Speakers gave presentations on topics such as the dangers of pet rat infestations and how PMPs can best use technology at work. On the second day, class time was also spent discussing observations made as participants split into groups and performed entrapment and exclusion exercises at two locations in downtown Seattle.
Pest control companies have helped the association connect with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission, a nonprofit ministry that helps homeless people across the region. His building had problems with rodents entering through underground entry points. Food storage and laundry, both of which were kept in the basement, were attacked by rats. Olesen said attendees who helped there focused on preventing pests from contaminating items collected by the mission.
Others have worked on rodent control near Pioneer Square, a part of town with notorious pest problems. Rodent data was collected from a nearby fire station, Olesen said. In Seattle, it’s not uncommon for rats to come out of compromised sewers and into people’s backyards. Rats coming out of the toilet are also common in a big city like Seattle, he continued.
These unique complexities and issues and the fact that “things are so focused (in Seattle), we just felt like this was going to be a good place to have this rodent academy,” Olesen said.
The sebum made it easier to detect the movement of rodents, he continued. Bait stations and traps were set up on the first day, and the land was surveyed to see what exclusion work could be done. The next day, participants discussed the data collected.
After returning to the classroom, participants talked about the previous day’s work and offered different perspectives on the observations and the results of the data. The diversity of thought was a highlight of the event, said Olesen. Communication between company representatives who do not usually work together allowed everyone to better understand each other’s points of view. There was a ton of scouting and trapping done thanks to the many people there, Olesen said.
Even Olesen, who has worked in pest control for almost 20 years, said he learned something. One of the most valuable resources the workshop put him in contact with was a special medical wallet card. The card can be used to inform medical staff that PMPs like him may have been exposed to zoonoses as a result of their work. A printable version of the map can be found on the Cornell Wildlife Health Laboratory website.
The WSPMA also continues to coordinate efforts to ensure that pest control is still maintained effectively in the places it has helped serve. The success of the first Pest Coast workshop also prompted the association to consider organizing more in-person and hands-on classes, some even on the road. The association is already in talks to host another rodent academy next year, Olesen said. Keep an eye on its website, www.wspma.com, for information on upcoming events.
The workshop raised around $ 6,000 for WSPMA and did a great job bringing people together, Olesen said. Seattle Union Gospel Mission staff also greatly appreciated the pest mitigation efforts. He said their thanks were a reward in itself.
Rodent academies were something the WSPMA wanted to bring to Washington, he added. The Pest Coast Workshop was one of the most frequented events for company representatives. This is likely a testament to the hands-on nature of the workshop and the fact that it was one of the very first such in-person seminars in the state, Olesen said.